2013 – Looking ahead
If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, here is the link to my 2013 Reds outlook, which includes those eligible for arbitration and a look at the team position-by-position.
To expand a little bit — here is my priority list for what the Reds and GM Walt Jocketty need to do this off-season to improve the Reds. The good news is the Reds don’t have to go nuts with moves in the off-season. They have a strong nucleus and few holes to fill. But there is certainly room for improvement.
1. Find a leadoff hitter — This is the epitome of easier said than done. Jocketty has repeatedly tried to address this area since becoming GM. Willy Taveras and Corey Patterson are two examples of what didn’t work. Brandon Phillips worked in the past but wasn’t as successful there over the season’s final month. Michael Bourn (.274/.348/.391 in 2012) is an expected free agent, but I would imagine his price to be high. The Reds having Billy Hamilton still about a year or so away makes it tough to commit long term to a leadoff guy, but at the same time, Hamilton is very young and it’s a lot to automatically expect immediate success in the Majors at his age. Tough quandry indeed.
2. Get a run producer — Retaining Ryan Ludwick is part of this equation but why not look to add someone else that can fit in the middle of the order?
3. Figure out what to do with Aroldis Chapman — Is he a closer or a starter? Chapman notched 38 saves in 43 tries and has proven he can close, but could he be even more effective in the rotation? I think that is worth exploring. Whether the Reds re-sign Jonathan Broxton or Ryan Madson (who could need more time to rehab) or take a chance on someone like J.J. Hoover, or look to someone entirely different outside of the organization, the fact is others could fill the role and might be as successful at getting the final three outs (albeit not as exciting and with less ballpark electricity). If Chapman does not work as a starter, he could always return to closing.
4. Upgrade the bench — When a pitcher (Silver Slugger candidate Mike Leake) is one of your better hitting options on the bench, you need better production options from your bench. Look for a candidate that could push Todd Frazier at third base this spring and would be willing to play part time if Frazier won the job. Maybe seek someone that could compete for center field with Drew Stubbs both offensively and defensively.
The free agent market doesn’t open until after the World Series…so things will be quiet for another couple of weeks. But I do not expect this to be a very quiet winter for the Reds.